A Chinese nuclear submarine had reportedly been docked at Karachi previous year, according to satellite images revealed by Google Earth. It showed a Chinese navy type 091 "Han" class fast-attack submarine, the first class of nuclear-powered submarines deployed by China. Its report said the Indian Navy has pointed out that "advance military assets" like submarines aren't "appropriate" for taking on Somali pirates who terrorize the seas in "small skiffs".
Unlike the conventional diesel-electric submarines, nuclear-powered submarines can remain under the water for weeks. The Shang-class is said to be on par with the Russian Akula submarines. Meanwhile, China, which has been rapidly expanding its Navy, has between 12 and 15 nuclear submarines of all types which have either been commissioned or are in an advanced stage of construction. It indicates that Chinese submarines are probably having a free unchecked run in the oceans around India and docking in Pakistani ports when they need to take a break. These submarines can be deployed underwater for extended durations and they are also hard to track.
The Chinese Defence Ministry in a statement on Friday to the Journal said the submarine docked in Sabah for supplies and for its crew to rest after anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia.
The report added, "Unclassified Chinese economic and military investments in the IOR will require a rapid evolution of subsurface support for the entire gamut of activity, both existing and prospective". India's indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine, the INS Arihant is thought to have recently entered service with the Navy after lengthy trials in the Bay of Bengal.
The Indian Navy also holds exercises and conducts training sessions for its counterparts in the countries located in the IOR.
Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba in December a year ago confirmed that Chinese military ships have made several port calls in Karachi.
This period of deployment at Karachi may be to showcase the submarine to Pakistan Navy before finalizing the deal to purchase eight submarines from China. "We launch surveillance missions in the form of aircraft and ships to keep a track of them", Lanba had said last month.
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